Mapping resource flows

With 1 million daily customers and 82 billion in net sales, Axel Johnson is one of the Nordic region's largest companies in trade and services. Today, material flows are primarily linear - so where exactly is the potential for circular solutions? With this question in mind Axfoundation and the Axel Johnson Group's companies decided to map resource flows in order to identify circular opportunities. The mapping, which was completed in 2018, has set a monetary value for important resource flows within the Group and identified resource flows that are so valuable that they are reasonable to find circular models for. As a result of the diagnosis, work was initiated to develop these models.

The Issue

Today’s linear production and consumption pattern will eventually lead to a shortage of resources. Unfortunately today’s economy does not utilize materials at the end of a products life cycle, meaning that large material and economic losses are created. As Sweden’s leading group in the grocery and retail trade, the Axel Johnson Group manages a significant amount of Sweden’s total material and waste volumes. Today, the Group’s processes are essentially linear, with some exceptions. However, there is great potential for circular models.

Our Solution

To precisely identify the material flows in the Group’s companies that result in waste, Axfoundation together with the Axel Johnson Group began mapping resource flows in 2018. The mapping presented an overview of the material flows that are currently considered waste- waste that can in the next steps be viewed as an asset.

“Our aim was to identify material flows within the Group’s companies, that are currently linear and result in waste flows, that have the potential for circular solutions. We wanted to identify both sustainability benefits and business benefits, and find synergies between the companies. ”

Our Work

The mapping was carried out by Axfoundation together with Axel Johnson AB and the companies in the Group. Prior to the mapping, Axfoundation in 2017 initiated a number of pilot projects with the aim of identifying and testing circular models. The ambition was to find opportunities within the Axel Johnson Group where one company’s waste could become another company’s resource, and thus to a greater extent take advantage of the value of different material flows. After a number of successful pilot projects, a comprehensive mapping of the flows began.


The mapping revealed the monetary value of a number of important resource flows used by the Group’s companies. It also identified the resource flows that are so valuable that finding circular models to replace the current linear models would be reasonable. Work is now underway on developing these models.

A number of areas have been identified as priority areas with great potential for synergies. These areas include circular materials and material systems (especially plastics), packaging and circular business models.

Learn more in Axfoundation Progress Report 2020


million tonnes of materials (products and packaging) are handled annually by the Axel Johnson Group's companies.


percent of the material is food.


percent is recyclable material such as plastic, paper, corrugated cardboard, cardboard, steel, aluminum and textiles.


billion SEK worth of recyclable materials.


Material Economics, Axel Johnson AB, and the companies within the Axel Johnson Group.

Projects within Future Materials